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Fairway_CY

How Do I Become a Better Putter?

17 posts in this topic

I've recently come to the realization that I can't putt. I always thought that an average right around 2.00 was a good average (right now I'm at 2.04 this season). My scores have begun to fall to an area where I'm fairly happy with them... but, that's also causing my handicap to drop. Obviously, that's a GOOD thing because it means I'm improving... but, as I play in a club where net scores are used to determine tournament winners... I need to be sure that I'm shooting right around even par (net) each round.

I KNOW that's not going to be possible forever because, eventually, my scores will level out and I'll be shooting net scores around 76... but, right now... I've still got tons of room to improve.

Anyway... with that said, my ball striking has been getting much better and that's what is accounting for my drop in scores. I've had a few rounds (91, 90) recently where I was on the brink of breaking 90 but was held back by putts between 6 feet and 25 feet. I'm perfectly fine (for now) taking 2 putts from 20 - 25 feet... but, I REALLY need to start making SOME of those between 6 feet and 20 feet.

Yesterday, for example... I shot a 90. I had 3 putts between 9 feet and 17 feet that missed by centimeters. It could have been an 87... but I couldn't sink those putts. The putts of that distance SHOULD fall some times... and guys I play with seem to make them fairly regularly... but - I struggle with them.

What are some drills I can to do become more consistant from that range? A lot of times... they aren't huge breaking putts... rather, fairly straight putts that will hang out on the low side a bit. Would one of those 10 foot indoor putting mats help me?

I'd LOVE to be shooting in the mid 80's on a regular basis, but I know that's not going to happen if I'm taking 33 - 40 putts a round as I am right now.

Thanks for any help!

CY
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Here are my thoughts......

1. Do you putt with your shoulders? If not, start working on it -- and by "putt with shoulders" I mean firm wrists and a rocking of the shoulders....one think I do to get the feeling of this move is (when practicing) concentrate on keeping the putter head very close to the ground and the way back -- that should get your front shoulder to drop and start the rocking motion.

2. Practice 3-10 footers a LOT.....having supreme confidence with short putts frees up the mind for longer putts (no pressue to leave it within a foot of the hole).

3. On long putts, speed is 90% of the battle.....concentrate on that first and foremost
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the reason why you couldn't sink those putts is because you didn't believe you could even before you putted the ball. putting is not about fundamentals, it's about repeating your individual stroke. take a stance, find out where you make best contact with the ball by moving it around in your stance, and make sure to get the ball rolling at the hole. don't just hit it, roll it. get some confidence, and make some putts. putts will only fall if you make them. there's no statistical probability that dictates your chances of holing a putt, you determine the statistic.
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First off, you can't expect to play around net par every round. If you do, your handicap needs to drop. Around 1 in 4 rounds should fall at net par if your handicap is stable. Anyone who's beating net par every tournament round should be eyed with suspicion (and will probably find themselves with a reduced handicap pretty soon).

Second, gotta agree with senorchipotle. You have to have a little swagger to make a long putt. You find your line, you pick your speed, and you put it on the line and of course it goes in. It wouldn't dare not to. 95% of the time I know the instant before I hit the ball that it's going in. If I'm not sure, it misses. So certainly practice your fundamentals, practice mechanically to make sure you're swinging on the line you want, but the purpose of practice is to get those fundamentals so ingrained that when you're on the course you don't have to think about them. On the course, you're a machine that makes long putts. You have to have that kind of confidence or you'll second guess your line during your swing and miss every time.

Also, some days you'll just miss by centimeters every time. You can try to adjust, but some days that's just how it goes. Try not to get discouraged, because those will start falling soon enough. As long as your not a few centimeters short every time, you just have to keep putting away because you're doing things right.
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I agree with the net score comment. I think it approaches 50:50 once you're consistent, but yeah, not every time out.

@Fairway_CY

You want to get better so you're asking for help. Trying to hole them all is a really good start.
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I would break it down into a couple of areas. I think the most important areas are:

1. Speed
2. Putter Alignment
3. Green Reading
4. Stroke

So how is your speed? How do you align the putter? Have you ever checked your alignment? If your putter is misaligned then you are going to have to compensate with your stroke. Get aligned properly that is half the battle, especially for short putts, and for longer putts if you are aligned properly then it all comes down to speed.

I also strong suggest watching David Orr's videos on green reading. www.orrgolf.com
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2. Practice 3-10 footers a LOT.....

That's where I'm lacking, so... I'll have to practice those, for sure.

the reason why you couldn't sink those putts is because you didn't believe you could even before you putted the ball.

Good point. I AM very nervous over putts and don't tend to believe they are going in. On the flip side, I AM confident when I'm standing over my irons and wedges.

First off, you can't expect to play around net par every round. If you do, your handicap needs to drop.

I don't expect to play around net par EVERY round... but right now, I do. My handicap, after the revision next Wednesday, will have dropped from 23.0 to 18.4 in six weeks. I know my game is improving and that's why I'm trying to take advantage of that now... before it DOES level off and I'll only shoot near par occassionally.

I agree with the net score comment. I think it approaches 50:50 once you're consistent, but yeah, not every time out.

Same as above... you've been reading the blog posts. You know my scores are getting lower and lower. The whole purpose of the game is to improve. This is the first time in my life I've had the opportunity to play this frequently and work so much on my game. I don't expect to shoot at net par FOREVER... but, for now... until my handicap drops to about 16.0 or so... I figure I'll be able to shoot AROUND net par each round.

I would break it down into a couple of areas. I think the most important areas are:

Good tips. I'll check out the video, too. I suppose what I REALLY need is to work on speed, first. Recently, it's been a few centimeters off... but prior to that, it was a few feet off.

Thanks, everybody... for the tips. I'll work on what you've posted and see if it doesn't help! CY
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One simple thing that will help your putting is take a tennis ball and hit 3 footers into a hole for 20-30 min a night then when you go out and play try and hit those 20-25 footers into that 3 foot circle I bet your 3 putts will be almost eliminated and I also bet more of those putts will fall
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I would say its controlling your speed. You can do it by feeling the time the ball rolls or trying to stop it in a certain spot - like a speed versus distance idea. If you can control your speed, next step is to learn how to read a green.
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I would advise two things for you to improve your putting. The first (and this applies to your whole game from irons to driver etc) is find a gridded floor. Simple. Line up in your natural stance with your putter lined up on a cross section. Then simply study the position. Feel it in your body with the knowledge that you are lined up perfectly for your put. Having that confidence built in makes putting so much easier. From there train your eyes to recognize the proper angles and "lines" from this putting position. You will naturally have a skewed perspective on the putting green, but by training on a gridded surface you can train the muscles in your eyes to compensate. What I do is simply trace the straight line from the putter rotating my head to the left (I am right handed), and I do this for different distances. With a gridded surface you can train for different lengths and begin to get a proper feel for the correct distances and angles. When you train this way you can golf with the confidence of knowing you are aimed and aligned correctly. I have found that this allows me to focus in on the speed/break with a certain sense of ease.
The other focus would simply be to follow through on all your puts. The most common mistake I see in all of golf is an improper follow through. In particular I see this a lot on the green. Force yourself to follow through and adjust accordingly. For the record I average 1.77 ppr.
I hope that helps, and I can personally vouch for using a gridded surface. I highly recommend also doing this with all your clubs to get the proper feel for ball position, general aiming, foot alignment etc.
James
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there's no statistical probability that dictates your chances of holing a putt, you determine the statistic.

Technically true for each individual, but there is some aggregate data for the pros that tends to indicate that putting is pretty hard even for very good players. Keeping stats, Dave Pelz found that tour players were only making 50% of their putts from 6 feet and that dropped to less than 20% from 10 feet. So don't be too hard on yourself!

I recommend his "Putting Bible" if you've got the patience to plow through it.
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1.) Practice, practice, practice.
2.) Think of your arms as being like a pendulum. You want to keep your wrists as quiet as possible.
3.) When juding distance, you want to try to make the ball stop just at the front of the hole. That will keep you from blowing your putts 4' past the hole.
4.) Your goal should be to never do worse than a 2-putt. You should try to get close enough with your first putt that your 2nd putt is a tap-in. That way, there is a decent chance that your first putt will drop and even if it doesnt, you should have an easy tap-in for your 2nd putt.
5.) Forget that notion that you, "cant" putt. You CAN putt, you just need to practice and work at getting better. Great putters arent born great putters. They all had to practice and practice and practice some more to get good at putting. If you simply have a positive attitude and believe that you can putt, you will. A positive attitude can do wonders.
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Four ways:
1. First say to yourself, "I am a good putter." Make it your mantra. Say it when you make a putt. Say it when you miss a putt. Believe, believe, believe. Lie to yourself, but believe you are a good putter. Believe that when it's your turn to putt you own the green.
2. Read the green from behind the hole. I see much more from there than from behind the ball. Imagine the ball starting off straight for the hole and you can see exactly how it will break away.
3. Just before you put, lift the putter, gently, straight up so it no longer touches the grass. This will take the slack out of your arms and the play out of your stroke.
4. Practice putts from six feet and in obsessively. Let the longer ones drop when they do and don't give it a second thought when they don't.
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statistically speaking, even the pros don't make those long putts as often as you might think. I am reading one of Pelz's books right now and he has a graph showing pro results (at the time ). At 25 feet the success rate for Pros is only 4-10%. 15 feet is only 8-20%. Even at 10 feet out, the best pros only hit 30% of the time.

My suggestion, keep working on it of course, but if you are getting those long putts to within centimeters of the hole and your short putts are sinking 80%, then you're putting very well. A certain amount of it after a point is luck. the greens have all kinds of inconsistencies, as do the balls, which can attribute to a certain miss rate. That is just all there is to it. You still have to try as hard as humanly possible to putt correctly, but especially on the longer putts....a lot of it is up to the golf gods. If you hit 1 in 3 of your 10 foot putts then believe it or not, you're doing very well. 1 in 5 of your longer putts.

Also consider you might be able to drop your putting score a bit by eliminating your 3 putts, not be eliminating 2 putts. Consider 2 putt to be a solid green play. A 1 putt is either a bit of luck that does occur regularly, or else you had a great approach or chip onto the green that left you inside 6 feet for a 1 putt. The 3 putts however, are inexcusable. With skill you can absolutely put all those lag puts and longer putts to within 6 feet of the whole or even within 3 feet. In my view, get your 3 feet puts to 99.99% and get all your longer puts to be within 3 feet 99% of the time. Then you will usually 2 putt and occasionally you'll luck out with some 1 putts. Eliminate the 3 putts, don't stress about 2 putts when the first putt is a long one.
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This won't make you a better putter per se.... but I have found one of the best ways to reduce your number of putts per round is to practice and improve your Short Game in close around the greens (I'm talking 20 Yds and in specifically)..... If you can consistently get those chips/short pitches within 'gimme' range or close your putting stats will improve dramatically.
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Edel's are great but you left out the cost.

I've putted well with a certain type of putter for the same reasons - you aim differently based on the optics of the sight line, offset, etc.

Since I use the line on my ball to line myself up, I can get away with a lot more styles of putter because we can all more easily line something up to a point in front of us than some point seven feet away. In fact, I almost think the Edel process is pointless if you use the line on your ball and have a chance to putt with a lot of different putters - to see which one looks and feels the best to you. Some putters you'll hit everything left (maybe optics, more likely weight distribution, which manifests in toe hang primarily). Lead tape can help you toy with weight distribution.

I also don't misread putts and am always near the hole. AIM Point schools are great but I think they just teach you to be observant. If you can find the fall line - the line on which you have a straight putt - you know putts to the right of it always go one way and putts to the left always go the other way... There's not a lot to it.

But that's me. I've always putted pretty well and I've always read greens pretty well. My speed's typically good regardless of the putter I use, and I know that I tend to pull certain kinds of putters (no toe hang) and block others (a subset of center-shafted ones, plus I don't like to look at center-shafted putters).
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Here are my thoughts......

These are two great tips. i follow the same mantality when praticing and playing. one thing that i found is the hardest is reading the green. my stoke and distance is usually pretty good, the greens on the other hand is what i stuggle through. i will take a look at David Orr's stuff... looks interesting.

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